This afternoon I was taking a test for a course called Jesus and the Gospels. I was laboring over questions and getting irritated with myself for not studying more. But there was a time issue – not only a commitment issue. I like Jesus – and the Christian Scriptures that recall the good news that surrounds his stories. I like trying to remember which Gospel is the longest, the shortest, the oldest, the most Jewish. I like trying to recall which Gospel contains what parable and that John’s gospel is the only one in which the hackneyed “for God so loved the world…” passage appears. Some of it is rote memorization for memorization’s sake, but I do like knowing, at least, that Jesus does say “I am the way,” but that he only says it in one of the four Gospels. Only one of the writers chose to put that phrase on the lips of Jesus. I think that is interesting. But this isn’t the point. (more…)
I’m going to do a spin-off from the speech I pointed you all to last week. So here is the conundrum. I grew up Mennonite. I went to a lovely, nurturing, happy, rural church (East Union Mennonite Church) where I was baptized at 16. I went to a Mennonite summer camp (Crooked Creek Christian Camp) for quite a few years and loved it. I went to many a Mennonite bi-annual conference as my parents were youth leaders for many years and when I was in high school. I went to a Mennonite high school (Iowa Mennonite School) where I learned lovely things about Mennonite history and faith along with the English and Trig. I served for a year with Mennonite Central Committee (SALT) in South Africa. I spent four formative years at Goshen College. I highly value every one of these institutions as they have played a major part in my formation. Those institutions represent an integral part of almost my entire life. The problem arises when I realize that every single one of these institutions would discriminate against me if I were to want to work for them or even volunteer for them as an openly queer Mennonite.
I feel quite a bit of loyalty to the Mennonite Church because it is an important part of who I am. I feel that I am part of the church as much as any other Mennonite who says I shouldn’t be. According to the official membership quidelines and many Mennonites – I shouldn’t teach, preach, or work for any official part of the church or even be a member. To me, it feels like the church is not living the values that I learned from the church. (more…)
those of you around the Goshen College scene have probably heard of, witnessed, or even participated in the famous Goshen College Peace Play Contest. you should have – we’re talking submissions from international playwrights and… well… some fairly major questions about what a ‘peace play’ is.
my least favorite is the “crash” genre – airbrushed silhouettes of complexity. they make us feel all deep on the inside without actually pushing us beyond anything we’ve already thought of a million times. the self-flagellating genre is just as bad, and i’m not even sure about my own submission of the mennonite-woman-interview-play genre a few years back. it was a great interview – but i’m entirely sick of that genre. then there’s the allegory plays and the…
A friend recently told me that I should start saying things, whether I have them right or not – that the saying, the conversation is what matters. So, in that spirit, here’s a glimpse into what I consider, along with Robin Hawley Gorsline, to be contemporary white-supremacy. And why we can’t just say white supremacy exists out there, but that all white people, including you and I, are white-supremacists.
I am attempting to discuss a way of living and being – a particular ethic. My deepest hope is that it corresponds as closely as possible with the way of being and living that Jesus asks of us. I’m using theology as a medium to talk about the broader issue of white supremacy that white people continue to enforce (whether consciously or not) in the US (and world) today. So this essay is a theological one in the same way that an essay from George Bush on “a Jesus Ethic” might be a presidential one. Bush could offer an anti-white-supremacist presidential perspective to help us think about our own stories of white-supremacy – presidential, theological, economic, pedagogical, etc.
About the title (and an intro into my thoughts): White supremacy makes me think of the KKK and I really don’t like that organization. Theology makes me think of Karl Barth and Paul Tillich and, on occasion, James Cone (all theologians – two are white and better known). Liberation makes me think of oppressed groups of people empowering themselves toward freedoms. I put them together because they don’t really fit and because, in actuality, this particular combination is exactly what we need to learn to fit together. (more…)
Yesterday my wife (!) Charletta arrived in Venezuela for our honeymoon. We decided its the first time for both of us that we´ve been in a Latin American country as purely a tourist (previously it was studying, volunteering or CPTing). Venezuela seemed like a great place to go to see beautiful countryside and do some political sight seeing as well. We´ve been reading about Chavez for the past 8 years so it was about time we saw what it was all about first hand.
First impressions so far have been mixed. Our first political opinions on Chavez were from Emilio and Samuel on the bus ride from the airport into Caracas (tell you something about their economic status). Emilio is a student from the Southeast of Venezuela studying optometry. He used to go to St. George´s on Grenada but transferred to the Caracas campas after the Reggae culture of too much Ganja and Cocaine got to him. He was travelling with his cousin Samuel who is a professor teaching physical therapy. Neither of them had a particularly good view of Chavez. They said that he has been a polarizing force in the country, turning families against one another (sound familiar). They described his ideology as a mix of socialism, communism and anti-capitalism. These accusations weren´t new to me. However, they also said that in order to get a job with government or even to get a government contract “you have to have the right opinions.”
So that´s the first portrait. Over the next 2 weeks I´ll occasionally post other perspectives and reflections on the the politics and culture here in Venezuela. Hasta Luego!
A few days ago, I was asked what I dream of for the church. It came just after an unrelated discussion about this event. The truth is, I couldn’t answer that question at the moment. I’m still stewing over it; it involves something along the lines of a place where we can share our joys as well as our brokenness. I want church to be a place not that caters to individual whims but which draws in all followers of Christ and transforms us one by one. I want it to be a place that always leaves me slightly discomforted. I want the church to be a place that deals more in the spheres of grace than of legalism.
I’m not attending the gathering at Hesston College, but I do like their questions on the web site, so I’m going to steal a few, and toss them at you all. How would you re-imagine the church? What do we really care about, and how can we make that happen? Of what do you dream?
Ohh…internet blog sites. I’ve never tried one…this is my blog cradle. I will be nurtured here – or shaken out of my comfort to my metaphorical baptism by carpet-burn. And I choose to sign my name to YAR, because I think it’s got potential. The potential to hurt and heal – to annoy us in our comfort, challenge us in our disregard and sooth us in our ailing. It could just be annoying, though. I’ve thought about that. And I’m mostly fine with that too. Especially because recently a friend challenged me to start saying stuff – even if I don’t think I have it right – because, we’re doing this as a community right (like those Anabaptists we keep clinging to), and if I get something wrong, eric or Lora or Michael J will call me on it – and then we’ll have a conversation and someone will learn something.
So, that’s why I’m a young Anabaptist radical – cheap right. Later we might define all those terms. For now: engage as you feel drawn or estranged by any part of that title. I’m still trying to figure out if I like young people or Anabaptists or radicals and when I think of them all together, I get real worked-up. But I’m young and occasionally radical and I try to be Anabaptist – so me blogging here sort of makes sense. I come, at least, from an historically Anabaptist church in Harrisonburg, VA. And they used to be radical, Anabaptists, I mean – but probably my church too.
One of my old professors teaches a course on international development in which he instructs his students in each of the three theories of development (read: why people are poor and what they need to be not poor). At some point during the semester, he requires his students to decide which theory of development they like best, and use the Bible to back up their position.
We read the Bible through cultural lenses. This explains, to some extent, why there are Christians who swear by free trade, others who’ve literally written the book on liberation theology, and still others who insist that Jesus was a warrior despite that whole bit about loving one’s enemies and turning the other cheek. It is in that spirit that we bring you the Bible verse of the day, which may or may not end up being regular feature. We hope you’ll enjoy it, and remember that if the Bible were to be made into a movie, it would probably be rated NC-17.
A gem from Proverbs 31, for all of you who’ve given up on being (or finding) a “Proverbs 31 woman”:
“Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”